Good morning, this is Imogen Dewey bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 19 October.
Victoria could have eliminated Covid in six weeks by entering stage-four lockdown in July, new analysis shows. The modelling indicates mandatory masks and strict closures of public spaces early in the state’s second wave could have eradicated the virus. Tony Blakely, the professor who led the analysis, told Guardian Australia that eliminating community transmission in Victoria is now unlikely, but still possible – with luck. The findings come on the same day that restrictions are being eased for Melbourne and regional Victoria. From today, travel up to 25km for either exercise or shopping will be allowed. The two-hour time limit for exercise and socialising will also be scrapped and groups of up to 10 people can gather outdoors.
Meanwhile, more issues have arisen with the New Zealand travel bubble after 23 people arrived in Perth, and, in Sydney, health authorities hope a coronavirus cluster in the city’s south-west is being brought under control after just one more case, linked to a childcare centre, emerged on Sunday.
Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh has written to more than 200 big companies, including Apple, McDonald’s and Microsoft, asking them to reveal whether they have received jobkeeper subsidies and used the money to pay shareholder dividends or executive bonuses. His move comes amid investor disquiet over what has been dubbed “dividendkeeper”, where companies use the subsidy, designed to keep workers hit by the coronavirus recession connected to their jobs, to prop up payments to shareholders. Leigh has also raised concerns that some Australian companies have used the taxpayer-funded supplement to beef up executive bonuses.
Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan who was the subject of a rightwing plot to kidnap and possibly kill her over coronavirus lockdown measures, has accused Donald Trump of “inspiring and incentivising domestic terrorism” with a ‘Lock her up!’ rally chant. With only 15 days left to reverse his poor standing in the polls, and amid a coronavirus resurgence that could sink his pursuit of a second term, the president has embarked on a tour of battleground states – as Nancy Pelosi warns that his rhetoric is turning voters against him.
“If demographics is destiny, then our destiny just got a lot more challenging,” says Deloitte. The economic consultancy has found the Covid-based decision to shut borders is setting Australia up for lower rates of population growth, which will affect everything from the number of schools built to the rate of infrastructure investment.
Federal government funding for the care sector would improve the gender pay gap and the economy at large, a new report has found. A commitment to better funding for the sector could allow 900,000 Australians in unpaid care work to increase their paid hours.
The Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index, released today, shows that US power in the Asia Pacific has fallen due to its mishandling of Covid-19. It’s still top of the list in the region, but China is on track to match it by the end of this decade. Australia, meanwhile, was one of the few countries to gain in the scores of comprehensive power this year, overtaking South Korea as the region’s sixth-most-powerful country.
Thousands rallied in Bangkok on Sunday, using Hong Kong-inspired tactics to defy the authorities and demand that the prime minister resign and the power of the royal family be curbed.
Tens of thousands of people have rallied in solidarity, in dozens of towns and cities across France, after a secondary schoolteacher was beheaded in an attack that has shocked a country already shaken by terrorist atrocities.
Iranian officials have hailed the lifting of a 13-year UN arms embargo on their military as a momentous day. But for several reasons, Tehran is unlikely to go on a short-term buying spree, or reach anything like the defence spending of its chief Gulf rivals.
The narrow EU deal sought by Boris Johnson will act as a “dead weight” on Britain’s ability to trade, the former boss of the Brexit department has warned, amid rising concerns that the country remains dangerously ill prepared for such an outcome.
“Between Covid, climate change and the budget, no wonder many women are rethinking having babies,” writes Jane Caro. “Frankly, who can blame them? All of us agree that 2020 has been the year from hell and 2019 was not much better, certainly not for Australia … Given all of this, don’t you think the treasurer might have thought just a little bit about what might actually encourage women to reproduce? Oddly, he and his government appear to have done precisely the opposite.”
Having more muscle mass in our body helps with overall health. But we also need our muscles to be strong so that we don’t end up absorbing the impact of movement in the wrong places, physiotherapist Tristan Chai tells Katie Cunningham. To work out where to start with strength training, we asked four physios to tell us about the functional exercises they think everyone should be doing and that they make time to do themselves. They’re not complicated, and they don’t even involve leaving the house.
“After a fall, my mother went to stay in a care home, and she was lonely at first. Then she discovered three years’ of text messages between me and my sister,” writes Zoe Williams about her mother discovering untold secrets after she lent her her old phone.
Changes in welfare payments since the 1990s have led to a dramatic change in the typical jobseeker, who is now most likely to be a woman aged over 50. Those on the unemployment benefit were given a boost during the pandemic when the rate was doubled but now face an uncertain future. In this episode of Full Story, Luke Henriques-Gomes reports on how people are coping on the jobseeker rollercoaster of 2020.
The Wallabies must overcome 22 years of history to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, writes Bret Harris. If even a shred of self-doubt of Sunday’s defeat seeps into the next Test, there will be little hope.
“Geelong versus Richmond might not be the AFL grand final everyone wanted,” Scott Heinrich observes. “Impartial supporters might bemoan the lack of an underdog to cheer, but whoever wins the decider will tell a story to reverberate through the ages.”
The Melbourne Vixens claimed their first Super Netball title over West Coast Fever in a thrilling 66-64 grand final victory that went all the way down to the wire.
Westpac Banking Corporation, the Perth Mint and hundreds of Australian citizens have been caught up in a global tax evasion probe, a joint investigation by the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and the New York Times reports. Perth’s new Lord Mayor told the West Australian his appointment is a “once in a generation opportunity for a fresh start”. And Steve Bannon has told the Australian we are “not going to see the end of Donald Trump”.
The inquest into death of 36-year-old Indigenous man Nathan Reynolds, who had a fatal asthma attack in custody in 2018, opens today.
Budget estimates will take place in federal parliament and will hear from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, home affairs and border force, and the Department of Agriculture.
And if you’ve read this far …
A sketch of an enormous cat has been revealed, lounging across a desert hillside among the sands of southern Peru. The Nazca Lines, a Unesco world heritage site, has previously revealed geoglyphs of a hummingbird, a monkey, an orca, and a figure some would dearly love to believe is an astronaut. This feline discovery, dated between 200BC and 100BC, emerged during work to improve access to a hill that’s a natural vantage point for the other designs.
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